On April 8, third graders walked a section of the Long Pond Greenbelt in Sag Harbor, imagining themselves as hunters and gatherers of long ago. The hike was an introduction to the Early Human unit. “We’re looking at humans and what they did to survive,” explained teacher Shannon Timoney. Led on the outing by science support Stacy Myers, the students were asked to think about where early humans would have settled and what they would have made their homes out of. They considered how the elements figured into finding shelter, such as needing protection from the sun and access to water. “They’re also thinking about whether they were hunters or gatherers and if there are predators and prey,” said Shannon.
The Early Human unit is also the focus for a group of teachers who have been taking a yearlong systems thinking course taught by Ross School Founding Mentor Ralph Abraham. Essentially, course participants (comprising a large proportion of the Ross faculty) are exploring how systems thinking (studying the ways various elements of a system interact with and affect each other) is exemplified within Ross’s Spiral Curriculum. Faculty taking the course have been tasked with creating a virtual systems model based on the subjects and grade levels they teach. Teachers for grades 3, 4, and 5 opted to generate a computer model of the spring migration patterns of early humans. Next year’s class may be combining the kinesthetic learning gained on their field trip with a sophisticated virtual modeling of the same kinds of concepts.